Famous even then
for its prison which held in its security some of the worst criminals in the
land, the town had many of its inhabitants held captive by the Devil at his
will. Many a young fisherman had returned from the war godless and careless
regarding his soul's eternal welfare.Yet to many of these men who had seen front line action on land and sea,
Yarmouth 1921 would be a year when spiritual battles would be fought in
their souls.Scores of Peterhead
fishermen were saved and rejoiced in the experience of sins forgiven. Their
lives were changed when spiritual debt was cancelled at the place called Calvary.In some cases whole crews of drifters were
converted, either through attending Douglas Brown's services in St. George' sChurch or at open-air meetings held by Jock Troup.Miraculous things took place among the
Peterhead fisher lassies as they were gutting the herring at the Denes on the sea-front.One herring curer told me it was a usual occurrence to see women crying for
peace with God among the herring barrels at the Peterhead owned curing
stations. The prayers of men like "Petrie Shonie"
Strachan, John Noble Stephen and many others were
being answered by a covenant-keeping God.I have personally heard the testimonies of men and women who were
redeemed at Yarmouth nearly sixty years ago and they are still going on for God.When the Lord moved, He saved men and women
who established Christian homes, their children were led to Christ and they in
turn are bringing up the grandchildren in the same way.Peterhead was particularly favoured as far as
the salvation of souls was concerned.I
am convinced that this was because godly men and women prayed in earnest.Not only were there new converts, but many
who had professed salvation in former days were called to a fresh dedication in
(Picture: A. Cordiner Peterhead.)
In Yarmouth that year
was a young man engaged as cook on the drifter Energy.David Cordiner had
been saved at the age of thirteen in Peterhead Baptist Church through an evangelist
named McGregor, but had grown cold in heart during the war years when he served
as a corporal of cooks. David attended meetings conducted by Douglas Brown and
Jock Troup where he was wonderfully blessed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
While cooking a meal for his shipmates, he took his cigarettes and threw them
into the galley stove.He had made up
his mind to be on fire for God. As he slept one night on board his ship which
was moored on the river, God spoke to him clearly and told him that when he got
home to Peterhead he had to go to Broad Street
and conduct open-air meetings.David
told the Lord, as Jeremiah did in Bible days, that he could not speak, but the
Lord said, "Open your mouth and I will fill it". After this a hymn
came to his mind,
"Must I go
and empty handed, must I meet my Saviour so?"
He cried out that
night, "I will go." Little did he realise that the vision he had
received from the Lord would take him into places and situations where mighty
things would be done through him.Here
is an example of what God can do with a life completely given over to Him.
Sailboats and steam drifters in Peterhead Bay.
(Picture: North of Scotland Library Services.)
As the drifter
Energy steamed home from Yarmouth, the young cook shared his vision with the mate of the vessel.In reply he was told, "David, you will
never do that, you are far too quiet." It was on a
Friday when the boat arrived at Peterhead harbour. David could never have
imagined that God had decided that he was to be a fisher of men instead of a
fisherman.When he arrived home he told
his godly mother of the vision. She expressed her feelings that he would never
make a speaker. However, she said that she would pray for him, and he testified
that her prayers held him up when he went forth to preach at the Broadgate in Peterhead, where he saw many souls won for Christ.
Steam drifters in Peterhead harbour.
(Picture: North of Scotland Library Services )
"Davie" Cordiner went forth in the name of the Lord, just as his
name sake in the Valley of Elah long ago. The next day being a Saturday, he did his work cleaning
out the cabin of the drifter Energy.He
met some of the young men who had professed salvation and told them what he was
going to do. They were asked to join him at that
evening at the Monument in the middle of Broad Street.About the appointed time on the way down the
street, Davie met two Salvation Army lads and asked for their support. When they
arrived at the Monument they found a few people had gathered to see the man who
had received the vision. Amongst those standing were
"Petrie Shonie" and Alex
"Skelton" Summers. The meeting commenced by singing the hymn,
'There is power in
the blood of the Lamb".
Davie had taken
twelve hymn sheets printed with well-known songs which he shared around. Little
did these men realise that although some of them had only been converted a few
days, they were on the brink of a tremendous move of the Spirit that was going
to have far reaching effects on the town of Peterhead.
Crowds began to
gather around the small group. Very soon there was a congregation estimated at
about 200, all standing spellbound listening to the cook and his friends
telling of Christ's power to save.The
open-air was stir in progress at After that someone said
that a part of the crowd had gone to the Salvation Army Hall in Chapel Street.
When Davie and his friends got there the place was full. It is reported that
so many came forward in answer to the appeal that the penitent form was
overcrowded and extra room had to be made for the seekers.Peterhead Salvation Army did not delay in
supporting the work of God and were prepared to make themselves
available at any time to deal with troubled souls. Their hall was opened during
the day for special times of prayer and praise, with gospel services being held
were held nightly at the Monument in Broad Street,
followed by a march to wherever a special service was being held. Salvation was
now the order of the day, with souls getting saved in their homes as well as in
places of worship. Large crowds would listen to preaching in the open air. On
one occasion the Broad Street stance was not available, so David Cordiner
decided to hold his meeting at the Drummer's Corner. It started at
and by 7.30 Albion Street and Marischal Streetwere completely blocked by an eager
audience. So dense was the crowd that the Police were called to assist.Davie was told that he must confine his open-air meetings to Broad Street.
One rainy night
when the appeal was made, no one came forward to kneel in the centre of the
open-air ring. Davie took off his coat and laid it on the ground. A woman came forward
and found Christ while kneeling on his coat. Others, including "Petrie Shonie", Bill's Robbie and Skelton's Alex followed his
example and put their coats on the street. At least ninety people were
converted that night beside the Monument.
Fisher group dividing coal at Buchanhaven, Peterhead.
(Picture: North of Scotland Library Services )
By now the
denominations of the town had begun to see that the work being done was not
superficial, but was a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, doors and
hearts were opened to the young evangelist.The elders of the MethodistChurch offered him the use of their building. Meetings held there became a
harvest of souls. The years of ploughing and sowing had paid off.A schoolmaster and a student teacher attended
one of Davie's services. After
the meeting the student asked the teacher what he thought of the evangelist's
treatment of the King's English. The older man replied, "It does not
matter in the least if his English is not accurate, the important thing is that
he is getting results."
On November 27th, 1921, Mr. Alex Marshall returned to the Gospel Hall in Prince Street
to conduct a series of nightly meetings. Many were saved during these special
services. These converts have stood for Christ for many years.
On returning from Yarmouth, Alex
told the minister of the Congregational Church, a Mr. Hanmer,
of the good work that had been done among the fisherfolk.
"Soldie" then asked him if he would
consider making an outward appeal for souls to come forward after the service
on Sunday evening. This was done and at least six made their way to the front
as an indication of their desire to get right with God.As far as is known, this was never tried
during the awakening in the Congregational Church.After this, the United Free Church along with
the Congregational Church arranged meetings to be conducted by a Mr. John
Moor.An evangelistic campaign was also
held in the BaptistChurch by a Rev. Gilmour. These two special efforts saw blessing in a
measure, but little compared to that experienced with Davie Cordiner,
who was the leader, under God.One newspaper
report concerning Davie Cordiner stated,
revivalist says, 'Before I went to Yarmouth I could
not and would not speak in the Salvation Army meetings.Satan had me in his grip, but God did a work
in me at Yarmouth one night and I rededicated me life to Christ and His
his time visiting and telling others of Christ and His power to save, even at
the Labour Exchange, where many people gather daily. One of his qualities is
The blessing of
God continued on through December and into the New Year. Then the Fishermen's Mission opened in Charlotte Street under the leadership of Captain Andrew Cowe.Many young converts were strengthened and a
goodly number professed salvation. One outstanding feature during the month of
December was the march of witness. These marches were led by someone playing a
musical instrument.Scores of new
converts followed on singing the well known gospel songs.This unique procession would start after an open-air
meeting in the Broadgate, move into Chapel Street,
up Queen Street and on to Buchanhaven.
Scene in gutting yard at Peterhead.
(Picture: St. Andrews University.)
It was not all
encouragement for the leaders of the work.Many were critical, others discouraged new converts and some said that
it would not last, but those to whom God had entrusted the leadership of the
work pressed on.There is plenty of
evidence today, in 1981, that the work done in the hearts in December 1921 has
stood the test of time for sixty years.
It will be helpful
to take note of what the religious leaders of Peterhead in 1921 had to say
about the awakening.
The minister of
the Old Parish Church, the Rev. H.
D. Swan said, "I rejoice with all my heart and soul that there is a real
revival of religion in our midst. I was a sympathetic listener at some of the
meetings and found that the young converts were very sincere."
doubt it will do lasting good," said the Rev. A. A. Diack
from the West Associate Church.
ought to be welcomed. Let us thank God for it," stated the United Free Church minister, the Rev.
"I have sat
with the converts in my church and have seen the present day production of the
disciples in them," said the Rev. George Walker from the MethodistChurch.
All the above
quotations are reproduced from the Buchan Observer of 27th December, 1921, by kind permission of the Editor.